ULTRAGAS ITALY, ONE OF THE LEADING SUPPLIERS OF LPG IN ITALY HAS ROLLED OUT OVER 70 TOUCHSTAR IN-CAB MOBILE COMPUTING SOLUTIONS FOR ITS BULK LPG DELIVERY OPERATION.
ULTRAGAS was established in 1954 thanks to the will and initiative of Joseph Ricci, a brilliant entrepreneur, when he began bottling and distributing LPG, (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). Today, after more than 50 years of activity, ULTRAGAS has more than 80,000 customers all of whom benefit from the quality of service and distribution.
Like many fuel distributors around the world, Ultragas faced increasing costs distributing their gas. Dr. Massimo Carolei, as Project Leader of Ultragas, had to take the challenge of meeting customer requirements without increasing the cost. Some of the key areas of improvement include:
- Scheduling and dispatch of vehicles
- Eliminating re-keying of data by back office staff
- Costly travel to / from depots
- Information sharing between vehicles and office workers
Ultragas needed a consulting partner that could:
- Offer support in project management, business process re-engineering and technology implementation
- Ensure timely delivery
- Demonstrate its commitment to excellent customer service and knowledge transfer.
By combining the skills of Informatica Valdinievole (IV), SIA Srl and TouchStar Technologies, the initial phase, a viability study was conducted to determine the potential for cost savings and to establish the benefits case for a national rollout. A program was set up to determine whether organisation and process change, enabled by the deployment of new mobile technology, could effect a radical improvement in field-force operation. Ultragas wanted to be sure of the benefits before it invested on a larger scale.
A pilot was carried out and it was confirmed that it was an area with great potential for automation and cost savings. The pilot project was split into three phases:
- Analysis of current processes and day to day operation
- Design and build of new processes and technology
- Implementation and field trial of the new solution.
During the analysis, the team worked with all business areas to understand working practices of the workforce, to target business processes for redesign and to identify potential improvement opportunities. The solution allowed truck drivers to log on to the TouchPC in the morning and pick up a work schedule. From the work schedule, they would be navigated to the first delivery point. Special instructions could be included on the screen relating to the specific customer. Once the delivery is completed, the driver collects a signature from the customer. The customer can check on the screen what has been delivered and approve the delivery. The driver then prints a receipt for the customer from the in-cab printer. Now the driver is shown details of his next dispatch. At the end of the drivers shift, as he approaches the depot, the TouchPC transmits all information from the days workload to the back office via wireless Wi-Fi technology.
The pilot demonstrated that mobilising the work force operations and wireless connectivity in real time to the back office would lead to significant cost savings and quality improvements in five key areas:
- Improved data quality processes
- Increased utilisation of staff
- Access to on the job information by field and office staff
- Ability to manage the performance of field staff
- B2C - Connecting the field with the customer.